Russian Court Denies Appeal From Brittney Griner
On Tuesday, a Russian court upheld WNBA player Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence on marijuana possession charges. The denial of Griner’s appeal was expected, and it will pave the way for Griner to be transferred to a Russian penal colony, where she will begin serving out her sentence. Though U.S. officials have previously indicated the possibility of a prisoner exchange, the likelihood of a swap and of Griner’s release remains unclear.
In February, Griner was detained at a Moscow airport after officials allegedly found two vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. In the ensuing months, officials stressed the political nature of the arrest, which occurred just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In May, U.S. officials declared that Griner was “wrongfully detained.”
Griner pled guilty to cannabis possession charges and was sentenced to 9.5 years in a Russian penal colony in August. The sentence, which nears the 10-year maximum for the charges, was unusually harsh—even by Russian standards. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken wrote in a statement that Griner’s severe sentence “puts a spotlight on our significant concerns with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda, using individuals as political pawns.”
After Griner’s sentencing, U.S. officials attempted to negotiate a formal prisoner swap with the Russian government, offering to release arms dealers Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner. However, Russian diplomats warned against a public approach. “The U.S. already has made mistakes, trying to solve such problems via ‘microphone diplomacy,'” Kremlin spoke
Article from Reason.com